Topic: fuzzy sounding reeds

Hi- I've been making reeds about 6 months and have happened to make a few that actually work nicely now!  But although I think I have the basic proportions right and get a nice crow, the latest couple are a bit "fuzzy" still.  My previous attempts were very flat, buzzy and did not work at all and I was told the tips were too thin/long.  So I have been working very carefully on not making the tips too thin or too long.  I feel like these newer reeds are almost "done" but I don't know where to take off more cane.  I already tried thinning the extreme tip, sides and corners of the tip which maybe helped a little.  Resistance seems OK, they are not flat or sharp, double crow is there but the tone is not as clear as I would like.   I don't know what I did differently on the couple of reeds that did not have this problem.
(I don't have a micrometer and I am between teachers now.)
Thanks!

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Re: fuzzy sounding reeds

Iklatka,

The reason you have had limited response to your question is that the variables are too numerous to try to attempt an accurate appraisal.  Get with a qualified teacher as soon as you can! 

That having been said, when I experience the problem you're describing, the "fuzziness" is usually due to a thick spot in the tip.  Be carefull that you are taking your knife all the way off the end of the tip, and not leaving any "lumps" along the way.  These thick spots can be hard to see, even with good back-lighting.  Also make sure that both blades are reasonably matched in thickness at all points along the scraped surface.

Sometimes, of course, if everything "looks good" in your scrape and wrapping job it may be the cane quality and/or gouge and/or shape and/or weather and/or you-name-it!  (See what I mean about variables?)

I think it's great news that you've got reeds that work after only six months in the game.  Well done!  Now get thee to a teacher and good luck!

Jonathan Marzluf
Owner, Marzluf Reeds
SoCal Freelancer/Educator
www.marzlufreeds.com

Re: fuzzy sounding reeds

Thanks!!  That does help.  I know it is hard to "diagnose" without seeing the actual reed.  Fortunately I have a teacher lined up for the summer. 
P.S. What is overwrapping?  Too tight or too high?  I have noticed reeds with one kind of thread don't turn out as well as ones with a different kind of thread that tends to break if pulled too tight (both were nylon thread).  So maybe they're too tight. Is there such a thing?

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Re: fuzzy sounding reeds

Over wrapping means wrapping past the end of the staple.  It is far better to be a little short of the end of the staple than over.  Try for "right on" so you can maintain consistency (at least on this point!) in your reeds.  Use the same make/model of staple each time, and double-check their length according to your ruler.

I don't think it is possible to wrap too tightly, unless you are using brass staples that lose their shape under the stress (some “student” quality staples will do this).  As far as the thread goes, most oboists use FF machine-twist nylon rope (standard reed thread, sold by any double reed supplier).  Single F or EE thread is available, but breaks more easily.  You’ll have a hard time trying to break the FF!       

Also, with regard to your “fuzziness,” try changing the overall tie-on length of your reeds to find the "sweet-spot" for the shape you are using.  This will usually be anywhere from 72-73.5mm (on a 47mm staple).  This should make noticeable changes in the way your reeds sound and/or "behave."

Continued good luck to you!

Jonathan Marzluf
Owner, Marzluf Reeds
SoCal Freelancer/Educator
www.marzlufreeds.com